27, wants to have a third eye, an extra arm and an extra pineal gland
media: multimedia, focus: illustration and music
Brian Kenny was born 1982 in Heidelburg, Germany, on an American military base. While growing up he traveled extensively throughout the US with his Army family. As a teenager, Brian was a competitive gymnast. After high school, he went to Oberlin Conservatory on a vocal scholarship, but eventually left school to concentrate on his own music and artwork. In 2004, Brian moved to New York. 6 years later, he is an essential part of New York’s art world.
You were born in Heidelberg, Germany and grew up in different states and cities – is that the reason you are an art nomad as a grown-up too?
When my brother and I were driving across the US from California to New York last year, shaving before a night on the Vegas Strip, he showed me how his wooden shaving cream kit had the word “NOMAD” engraved on the front. It was a small moment when we both agreed at glance “Yeah, that’s us.” I certainly felt nomadic growing up as a ‘military brat’ and it was great exposure to grow up in states as far south as New Mexico and far north as Massachusetts. Although I’ve been In New Yorker for 6 years, I’ve been lucky enough to continue traveling the world through art exhibitions.
And yet you return again and again back to drawings – what is it that gives you more freedom of expression than other media?
Drawing comes more naturally to me than writing and I really get into it. I can draw for hours, every day. To me, it’s a very free media for expression because you can convey ideas emotions without language or structure.
Your art has many layers – I usually need a couple of times to get the bigger picture and the tiny details (not just because I’m blond!) – explain, how do you create a drawing? Do you go back to pimp up a piece?
I usually create drawings without any planning. I just begin drawing. If I’ve just seen something really cool or strange, then I’ll draw it. If I’m horny, I’ll draw sex. If I’m angry, I’ll draw curses and monsters. I’ll draw from imagination, life, books, Internet, everything. Perhaps, the hardest part about drawing for me is not to think too much. The best moments when I’m drawing are thoughtless, when I give up trying to control the image and just draw intuitively, not at all sure at what will appear and being okay with that. Drawings made in that frame of mind always come out beautiful and full of insight. Knowing when to stop a drawing is very tricky. Slava is always pulling out drawings from underneath me saying, “It’s done. Next!
You have been a competitive gymnast – is Targets your tribute to that sports past and gymnastics?
Well, I have made target drawings that focus on gymnastics, but also weight-lifting, running, jury-duty, my relationship with Slava, sex, fantasies and experiences I’ve had living in New York. When I have any image, memory or idea that I want to “target”, then I will draw about it on a shooting target.
Did you have sexual experiences during your gymnast period? (e.g. with someone you were training together with?)